All bets are off in this final installment which sees Campbell hiding away as a therapist in the mountains, until she recieves a phonecall informing her of the murders of the cast of 'Stab 3'. With every body, there is a picture of her mother, prompting another whodunnit, and why, investigation.
One of the most memorable - not to mention memorably 'ironic' - moments in 'Scream 2' occurs when a class of soon-to-be-chopped-liver students discuss whether film sequels can ever improve on the original. While the general consensus is that second instalments 'blow', there are just enough examples given of films which do actually better their cinematic predecessors to suggest that 'Scream 2' itself might have a chance of joining them. Moreover, although this eventually proves to be not quite true, at least it isn't embarrassingly wide off the mark, either.
It comes as little surprise, however, that no one in Wes Craven's third Scream outing makes a similar case for second sequels. After all, this time around, the knife-centric action has moved from sleepy Woodsboro to Hollywood, where everyone knows that any film with a number above 2 in its title has a good chance of sucking so much that even passing vacuum cleaners stand around and applaud.
Not that 'Scream 3' attempts to hide its chronological status. Chief irony-monger Kevin Williamson may have abandoned script-writing duties to concentrate on his directing'ôcareer' - not so 'funny' now is it, Kev? - but replacement Ehren Kruger (no relation) is hardly a slouch when it comes to finding the inverted comma on his keypad.
As a result, during one of the film's ultra-rare action breaks, Campbell is treated to a posthumous video lecture from film nerd/comic relief/'Scream 2' victim Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy) who informs her that, in the final part of a trilogy, all bets are off and that even the most entrenched of series characters can expect a visit from The Grim Reaper.
Plotwise - predictably - the now standard murder is just the start of the mayhem, and soon the rest of Stab's cast of young good-looking actors are being slaughtered like, well, young good-looking actors in a schlock horror movie. It is a turn of events that attracts the attention of first tabloid hack Gale Weathers (Cox) and then Sidney Prescott (Campbell) who, following the events of 'Scream 2', has secreted herself away as a counsellor in some remote backwoods.
And so the gore-soaked stage is set for fun frolics and fear with Arquette, Cox and Campbell once more dodging the attentions of our Munch-loving maniac, whoever he may be this time. Indeed, one of the strangely under-acknowledged aspects of the Scream series is that they owe every bit as much to the traditional Agatha Christie 'whodunnit?' as they do the slasher genre.
Certainly, one of the original movie's most accomplished moves was the way it first made us suspect Skeet Ulrich, then utterly absolved him before turning everything on its head in the peerless final act. This time, though, the finger of suspicion is pointed at so many people that you begin to believe it's only a matter of time before Craven puts himself in the frame.
Moreover, even given the traditions of the genre, it is a little tiring to watch Campbell et al yet again abandon all common sense as they repeatedly split up to wander around darkened corridors on their own. Yet, while not half as scary as its predecessors, 'Scream 3' does go some way to match their yock-quotient, thanks in large part to cameos from Kevin Smith creations 'Jay and Silent Bob', and, best of all, Carrie Fisher - the 'Star Wars' gag is to be truly relished.
The result is a film which may have run out of ideas, but still has energy to spare. One can only hope, though, that Wes really does call it a day now. After all, even 'George' has trouble with those fourth episodes.
Still satisfying comedic shclock horror, but the premise is starting to wear a bit thin as the trilogy draws to a close.